I learned to ride bicycle on a large anonymous model balloon tire bike. About all I remember of it was that it was grey, like the colour of automotive primer. However on the day of my 10th birthday in 1969, I got a shiny red Schwinn Typhoon. Chrome fenders, that famous Schwinn "S" on the saddle, streamers, and even a bell. I was styling in a major way. I rode that bike everywhere it seemed, even if it was only up and down our long driveway.
As I got older I moved up to a Sears 10 speed. (Which as fate would have it, was built by Schwinn!) After a few years with that bike, I moved up to a true Schwinn Sprint 10 speed (Pictured in the photo at the top of this page), bought for just over a hundred dollars at a local hardware store. This was a real bike, even though it did weigh in the range of about 28-30 pounds!
My first century ride was on that Schwinn Sprint at the age of 16, way back in 1976. My second century ride was at the age of 17, almost as far back, in 1977. (Do you see a pattern here?) Since then I have ridden thousands of miles, in all kinds of weather in all kinds of locales. And to this day, I still ride a Schwinn.
In 1984 I retired from a career of being on the road doing touring rock & roll. It was a very active lifestyle, but also a rather restless style of life. At that point I was skinny and muscular, but not athletic in the true sense. Along about 1987 I realized that while I had strength, I had no endurance. So as someone that knew nothing better, I shortly thereafter joined a health club. Rows of shiny weight machines of all manners, a serious weight room, and dozens of Stairmasters, Concept II rowing machines, etc. I used to go lift weights most mornings, and then hit the Stairmaster after that.
One day when I was bored of the same old routine, I went for a 1 mile run around the indoor track at the health club. (Which consisted of 10 gerbil like laps) No big deal. About a month later I ran on the track again. Only this time I ran 5 miles non-stop. (I can still to this day very clearly remember that run) I was now a runner. I started to run on the roads near my house, and got a real pair of running shoes. A good friend mentioned entering a race, and about two months after that I started running I ran in my first 5K race, finishing in 21:05. I can still to this day remember the extreme feeling of elation that I got when I crossed that finish line. The photo I of have of me crossing the finish line is one of my favourite photos of myself. I had never felt that incredible feeling of accomplishment for something so simple. A few weeks later I ran in my first 10K. I was hooked. From then on out, it was one race after another. The following Summer I entered my first triathlon. Then that Fall I ran my first marathon (3:56). A year after that I ran a much faster marathon (3:26) and even more races.
Fast forward a decade, and I have run/swam/biked/Rollerbladed/rowed in hundreds of races and events. I have (as of June 2002) run 6 marathons (26.2 miles), 22 half marathons (13.1 miles), 80+ 5K's (3.1 miles), numerous misc distance events (4 mile, 8K, 10 mile, etc), along with over 50 triathlons (swim/bike/run), biathlons (run/shoot/run), duathlons (run/bike/run), century rides (100 mile bike ride), and rowing regattas. (I was world ranked in (2500 Meter Heavyweight) rowing in 1995!)
Along the way I have won a number of awards. A lot of them were for my size as well as my speed. I am a "Clydesdale", or an athlete weighing 200 pounds or more. Most triathlons now have Clydesdale divisions, which is good for me, as I have a lot of triathlon awards due to this. One of my best races ever was the 2001 Las Vegas International Half Marathon, where I managed to beat out about 60 some other Clydesdale runners to finish in second place, setting a PR (PR=Personal Record, aka Personal Best) along the way. Some days the sun just seems to shine bright on me for whatever reason.
My goal in being an athlete is to simply enjoy the workouts for themselves. To be able to run until I am far older and wiser than I am now. To be able to enjoy the fun of a long bike ride and the wonderful beauty of nature all around me. To be able to be a kid again and just play, or to be focused and serious and complete a large event like a marathon or long distance triathlon. To just live in the moment of each day, and to make exercise a part of that day. I have been very blessed to experience some very wonderful places in my life because of my athleticism. Running on the deck of a huge cruise ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean while everyone else is sleeping in. Rowing crew on the mighty Mississippi River and feeling the power of teamwork and the rush of the water inches below me. Mountain biking on Jeep trails down to Megan's Bay in St Thomas. Running in Golden Gate Park on a vacation to San Francisco, or on a Sunday morning in Central Park in New York, or in the desert outside of Las Vegas at sunrise. Swimming laps in a pool in Ireland, with a breathtaking view of the mountains in the background. And now to be selected to bike from the Canadian border to Tampa Bay over 7 weeks. How much better can it get?
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